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How to Care for an Outdoor Satsuki Azalea Bonsai

The Satsuki azalea bonsai is one of the most popular bonsai selections in Japan. Its popularity stems for the Satsuki’s ability to bloom flowers of multiple colors on the same tree. The Satsuki azalea bonsai is a temperate tree that thrives in mild climates and is intolerant to winter climates. Satsuki has Japanese meaning, “Sa” meaning five, and “Tsuki” meaning month or moon. Adhering closely to its name, the Satsuki tree is a late bloomer, flowering its blooms in the fifth month of the year.

Place the Satsuki azalea bonsai tree in a partially shaded location, away from the midday’s direct sunlight. Choose a location that receives a good amount of morning and late afternoon sun. The bonsai will require at least four hours of partial-shade sunlight each day.

Maintain a moist soil environment for the Satsuki bonsai. Check the soil levels daily and water accordingly. If you are unsure of the Satsuki’s watering frequency (as every bonsai is different), soak the bonsai.

Check the soil levels of the Satsuki azalea daily. Stick your finger approximately 2-3 inches into the soil. If moisture is limited or absent, water the tree.

Place the bonsai in the sink, fill it with tepid water, and soak the tree until bubbles no longer appear. Place the Satsuki bonsai back into its outdoor location and allow it to rest for several days.

Feed the Satsuki azalea bonsai bi-weekly during the growing season. Use a well balanced, high acidic fertilizer that includes nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Apply monthly fertilizer applications during the months before and after the growing season, using the same fertilizer selection.

Prune and shape the bonsai prior to the growing season, preferably early spring. Remove all dead flowers and foliage from the tree. Use aluminum wiring around the branches to promote the desired shape. Leave the wires in place for at least 6 months, to establish a permanent shape. Always cut away the wires from the branches to avoid branch damage and breakage.

Protect the Satsuki azalea from winter damage by cover or removal. Apply thick and heavy mulch covering around the base of the tree. Cover the entire tree with a mesh winter covering or, preferably, a glass casing. Avoid the need for protective covering by removing the bonsai from the outdoor environment and placing it indoors.

Transition the outdoor Satsuki azalea bonsai tree to the indoor environment. Place the tree near a window that receives at least 4 hours of direct sunlight each day. Avoid placing the tree near heating vents or places that have extreme hot or cold. Keep the temperatures cool to avoid early blooming.

Transition the Satsuki azalea bonsai back into the outdoor environment just after spring's final thaw. Re-inspect the location to ensure that it still complements the azalea's sunlight requirements.

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